For the second year in a row, President Trump has lit the White House up blue for Autism Awareness Day, despite knowing very little about autism himself.
In the past, Trump has made his ignorance on the subject of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) unmistakably clear.
Despite unwavering scientific consensus on the safety of vaccinations, Trump has continued - time and time again - to perpetuate the myth that vaccines cause autism.
Healthy young child goes to doctor, gets pumped with massive shot of many vaccines, doesn't feel good and changes - AUTISM. Many such cases!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 28, 2014
Massive combined inoculations to small children is the cause for big increase in autism....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 23, 2012
Autism rates through the roof--why doesn't the Obama administration do something about doctor-inflicted autism. We lose nothing to try.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 22, 2012
While meeting with educators at the White House last year, Trump insisted that autism was increasing among the population, despite being told repeatedly that it was not.
"So what's going on with autism?" he asked.
"When you look at the tremendous increase, it's really such an incredible — it's really a horrible thing to watch, the tremendous amount of increase. Do you have any idea?"
Later, Trump appointed Robert F. Kennedy, Jr to be the President's personal advisor on vaccines and autism and to lead a committee on vaccine safety.
Just to be clear, Robert F. Kennedy is not a doctor, nor does he have a background in medicine. He is also an outspoken anti-vaxxer.
Still, it's not just Trump's wilful ignorance that makes the White House's blue color hypocritical.
The "Light It Up Blue" campaign, which is organized by the non-profit Autism Speaks, has also been criticized in the past for misleading the public and misunderstanding autism.
The founders of Autism Speaks are "long-time" friends of President Trump, and for several years, their organization espoused anti-vaccination beliefs.
In 2009, the executive vice president of communications and awareness at Autism Speaks resigned in protest over the organization's belief that vaccines can cause autism.
Although Autism Speaks officially reversed its position on autism and vaccinations last year, the organization has also come under fire for having no autistic people on its board and for saying that autism has "stolen children" from their families.
Last year in an Autism Awareness Day statement, Trump offended the autistic community by making a similarly inconsiderate statement.
"My administration is committed to promoting greater knowledge of ASDs and encouraging innovation that will lead to new treatments and cures for autism," Trump wrote.
The idea of a "cure" is offensive to many autistic people, who do not understand their autism as a disease or a burden.
"After a decade of progress in which public conversations about autism have increasingly shifted away from tragedy and fear and towards acceptance and inclusion, the White House's actions signal a disturbing attempt to drag autistic people back to the margins," the Autistic Self Advocacy Network said last year.
This year, those with similar views are urging the public to ditch Autism Awareness Day for Autism Awareness Month, which has a much better track record.
hey, it's Autism Acceptance Month! instead of lighting it up blue this year, choose #redinstead & support positive organizations that actually have board members with autism & don't treat autism as a burden / disease! ❤️ pic.twitter.com/lurWmDTiM7— signe (@signe_blake) April 1, 2018
Just a quick reminder that if you're planning on charity activity for #AutismAwarenessWeek:— 🕹🤖DadGeek UK🤖🕹 (@dadgeekuk) March 26, 2018
1. DO NOT "LIGHT IT UP BLUE"
2. DO NOT DONATE TO AUTISM SPEAKS
3. LOOK AT THE #REDINSTEAD HASHTAG
4. SUPPORT DECENT CHARITIES SUCH AS @autism and @autselfadvocacy
5. RETWEET THIS pic.twitter.com/vH6tprrJXP
DON'T "light it up blue."— Autism Acceptance Month (@beccasbookrealm) April 1, 2018
DON'T promote the puzzle piece as a symbol for autism.
DON'T promote or support Autism $peaks in any way.
DO wear #RedInstead
DO promote acceptance over awareness this month
DO listen to autistic people #AutismAwarenessMonth#ActuallyAutistic
The White House must have missed the memo.
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